Lager Fermentation Help

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Helper

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I recently brewed a lager and I have a few questions and concerns about the fermentation.

Here's my recipe:
1 can of Coopers Australian Lager
3 lb of Munton's Light DME
1 cup of dextrose

Yeast: 11.5 g packet of Fermentis Saflager s-23

I mixed the DME with two quarts of boiled water and mixed until all of it was dissolved and no clumps were seen. I then added the warmed can of Coopers LME and mixed thoroughly. I washed the can out twice with boiling water and placed the rinse into the fermentation bucket. I mixed gently for 5 mins and then filled the bucket up to the 5.5 gal mark. Because of some mis-calculated/read thermometer readings, the yeast was pitched on a two inch thick head of foam while the wort was still 87 deg F. The wort was chilled to 70 deg F with ice and the floating yeast was mixed in. The wort was covered and a three piece air lock was inserted in the cover. The wort was allowed to ferment at around 60 deg F for 30hrs and then the temperature was eventually brought down to 42 deg for 24 hrs. After the two days of this varying temperature, the temperature of the wort was maintained at 52 degs and has been sitting for a total of 5 days now ( 3 of which where at the recommended 52 deg mark).

On the fourth day, the yeast cake was disturbed by spinning (not sloshing) the wort. This was done to excite the yeast so they would eat the diacetyls produced from the fermentation process.

Questions:
What am I doing wrong/ what should I do differently next time?

Is the temperature right?

What should I do/ can I do to correct for whatever off flavors that were produced as a result of pitching the yeast too hot and allowing for a warm and then super cool fermentation before regulating the temp at the suggested 52 deg?

When should I rack into my secondary glass carboy?

How long do I leave it in the secondary carboy and at what temperature?

Believe it or not I did do some research prior to this and couldn't find any direct answers. I read J. Palmer's section on lager brewing but with the plethora of mistakes and complications I had I kind of fell by the way side and winged it.

Thanks for your input in advance.

Helper
 

cfonnes

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Next time that you brew a lager do not pitch the yeast until the wort is 52F. You may have some off flavors due to the warm fermentation. Not much that you can do about the flavors now.

After 2 - 3 weeks rack it to the secondary and lager it at 0 F for about a month, then bottle. Some people will bottle instead of using a secondary, then lager in the bottles.

For your first few brews it is recommended that you make ale instead of lager. Ale requires less fermentation temperature control and skips the lagering step.
 

beagrizly

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You mentioned "After 2 - 3 weeks rack it to the secondary and lager it at 0 F for about a month," my question is it even nessassary to rack to a secondary? Can one just leave it in the primary and bring your temp down for about a month then bottle?
 

Yooper

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You mentioned "After 2 - 3 weeks rack it to the secondary and lager it at 0 F for about a month," my question is it even nessassary to rack to a secondary? Can one just leave it in the primary and bring your temp down for about a month then bottle?
You could. But a lager should be crisp and "clean" tasting and leaving it on the yeast cake for another month during lagering probably won't give you that effect.

Next time, try to keep the temperatures steady during the whole fermentation period. That will prevent stressed yeast and any off flavors. I ferment almost all of my lagers at 52 degrees, before doing a diacetyl rest at 62 degrees for a couple of days at the end of fermentation. Then I rack, and begin lagering at 34 degrees for 6-10 weeks (depending on the beer).
 
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Helper

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*UPDATE*

Hello everyone, I thought I would do an update and let everyone know how things are going. Also I have a few more questions.

I let the lager ferment in the primary at 54 deg F for two weeks, and then I raised the temperature up to about 62 deg F and did a diacetyl rest for 2 days. I then racked into a secondary, 6.5 gallon glass carboy, ans it has been sitting at 34 deg f (+/- 2 degs) for about 2 weeks.

I had a starting gravity of about 1.047 and when I racked into the secondary it was around 1.020. The brew tasted strong, smooth, crisp, and a little fruity (a very light hint of citrus probably from the day or so of warm fermentation.

I took a sample with a few days ago and the results were a little dissatisfying. The potency of the brew seemed to diminish along with the flavor. The flavor is now resembles that of a light ale with very subtle fruit notes. I think my biggest concern is the lack of good mouth feel. In my opinion the brew feels slimy, almost like a sweet flat soda slimy. I wonder if it is due to the lack of carbonation because of the extended lagering fermentation and cold temperature?

Another thing I noticed was that the brew isn't clearing very well. The yeast seem to be getting stuck on the inner ribs of my carboy and the brew is still very hazy.

Should I sanitize my racking cane and give the brew a light swirl to suspender the yeast on the walls of the fermenter in hopes that it will drop to the bottom?

I'm also worried about the high gravity. As it stands the brew is at about 1.020 like I said. I think it should be at least 1.014 (this is a little high as well but rogue's dead guy ale is around that and they say it adds to the maltyness of the brew). I'm wondering if I underpitched the yeast, since I didn't use a starter, and didn't allow it to ferment in the primary for long enough.

Should I let the brew come up to the 54 deg mark and let it ferment for a week and then allow it to crash again for 2-3 weeks?

Let me know if you have any other ideas or suggestions, all input is appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Helper
 
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Helper

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I'm also worried/ wondering about priming the bottles with this 1.020 gravity. I want good carbonation but I'm afraid of the bottles breaking if the yeast ferment more of the sugars on top of the priming sugars.
 
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